One of my favorite practices every new year is to reflect on my schedule and redefine my “ideal week.” I consider the areas that worked well and the areas that did not. I reflect on my meeting vs. focus time cadence and consider what may need to change to live in rhythm more than a place of overwhelm. The concept of an ideal week came from my experience with the Full Focus Planner System and I have continued to adjust, modify and update my own ideal week every quarter. If you have thought about creating an ideal week but have not yet tried it, now is the perfect time to begin! Join me this week for three steps to take to begin implementing your ideal week.
Consider your goals and priorities.
What are the 2-3 goals that are most important for you right now? What are other priorities and projects that you have committed to complete? What are some things you have determined that are important in non-work areas (e.g. time with family, exercise, sleep)? Depending upon your season, some of this work may be very meeting intensive and you need to create lots of open time to meet with specific groups. In other seasons, you may be responsible for writing, developing, creating, planning and need more space on your calendar for focused time. You also want to consider priorities outside of your work-time. If you have a child in school and you want to be the one to pick her up, then you need to include that as part of your ideal week planning. You may have exercise goals, want to cook more meals at home, and would like to incorporate quality family or friend time every week. When you consider what is important to you in each area of life, you will be more equipped to designate specific time to those priorities. You cannot be everything to everyone but you can decide what you want to prioritize right now. Also, protecting time to rest and to play will re-energize you to be at your best. These underappreciated calendar items are often the difference between you being exhausted and overwhelmed or energized and living in rhythm.
Write out your plan.
Use a blank calendar with times and days of the week available for you to map out your ideal week plan. As you do this, let your goals and priorities in all areas of life inform your calendar space. Spend some time reflecting on when you have the most energy. What times of day are ideal for you to spend time working on priorities that require thoughtfulness, strategy, writing or thinking work? If you are a morning person and your best ideas, thoughts and products are created in the morning, then block time on your calendar for one or more mornings each week for focused time to write, create and think. Alternatively, if you work best in the afternoon, then block that time. This week, I realized that one of my times I needed for focus time had a standing meeting right in the middle of it. I asked my colleagues if it would be possible to move that time back a few hours each week. We found an agreeable time and now I can stay focused during that time which will allow me the ability to work toward my most important goals and priorities this quarter.
Block time on your electronic calendar.
Once you have a plan for your ideal week, block the time that you know is devoted to focused time or other commitments on your electronic calendar. You may also want to include information in your signature line to communicate boundaries on your time. For instance, I have decided that Fridays are my focus days. Other than a commitment that I had before the new year, Fridays are blocked for focus time and I included that as a bullet point in my signature line to set expectations for others. One of the most important (and most difficult) aspects of implementing your ideal week is protecting the time that you have blocked to focus on the most important things. If it is already on your calendar, it is much easier to protect. When you honor the time you have protected, you are able to honor the commitments you have made to yourself and others. This is incredibly important if you are going to live in rhythm and not in a place of overwhelm. Having the ideal week also helps you discern what opportunities can be a “yes” or a “no” when you are invited to participate in new opportunities. When we can clearly see what we have already said “yes” to on our calendar, we have data to inform our “no” or “not right now” responses.
What about you? What are you going to do to develop or update your ideal week as we begin the new year?
If you would like additional support in your ideal week and other practices to enhance your rhythm check out my free Escape the Overwhelm checklist.